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Back-office reforms for criminal justice deliver transformation and reduce cost

Benchmarking programs over the past few years have helped drive a major realisation for the UK criminal justice system. Namely, that easily-resolvable inefficiencies are responsible for rising costs across the public-sector prison estate.

But with this part of the public sector lacking a single direction in terms of insourcing, outsourcing, or shared services strategy, transformation is fraught with difficulty. Leaders must view any such project not just as a replacement of legacy systems, but as an evolution of the way in which the administrative support functions that underpin the sector function.

As with all operational IT challenges in the public sector, the challenge in criminal justice extends across multiple domains. Elected Mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners must work closely with the Ministry of Justice and other relevant stakeholders to ensure new systems are interoperable with those being used by partners at local, regional, and national levels to ensure effective information sharing and regulatory alignment.

The case for collaboration

The ability to quickly share data across agencies and jurisdictions can have a number of benefits. Most obviously, these include speeding up investigations, reducing backlogs and instances of missing evidence or records, and streamlining disclosure. The ability to quickly respond to FOI requests thanks to better data visibility can also become a valuable asset in fostering closer community relationships and engagement.

The ability to more seamlessly communicate with partner organizations can also foster a greater degree of engagement among your people – leading to improved productivity and better outcomes for everyone involved in the criminal justice process.

In the realm of the back office, integration across finance and HR systems can also lead to reduced costs. Budget can be allocated more efficiently based on up-to-the minute reporting and intelligent forecasting, your people can be appropriately assigned to work that complements and extends their skillsets, and the strategy of the whole organization can be moved forward based on robust scenario planning capabilities that account for multiple dependencies across your entire ecosystem of partner organizations.

How Unit4 are helping support law enforcement and criminal justice organizations across the country

Together, South Wales Police and Gwent Police serve just under 2 million people – around 60% of the total population of wales. In 2007, South Wales Police’s back office was based on multiple fragmented, overlapping systems – ranging from duty management, HR and payroll, and performance recording to training and asset management. With data distributed across so many silos, inefficiencies were rampant, and any change would be a tall order.

When Umar Hussain, MBE joined as Chief Financial Officer, he set about transforming finance and HR in support of a more modern approach to policing:

Our technology goal was to standardize on fewer, more integrated systems. That way we could more easily target the right police resource to the right location, at the right time, with the right skills.

To drive efficiency and collaboration in the face of similar challenges, neighbouring Gwent Police sought to partner with South Wales, using the ERP blueprint model to achieve similar finance and HR transformations. This lead to South Wales Police spearheading the launch of a fully integrated Unit4 ERP platform, covering Finance, Procurement, Payroll, and HR. It also integrates with the Global Rostering Solution (covering rostering, sickness management, absence management, and time management), with Gwent Police following suit in due course.

The two forces’ implementation of Unit4 ERP creates a single golden record of people resources, and feeds information to the Global Rostering System along with skills and training data for each force. All seamlessly connected to systems for Command and Control, mobile data, and person/vehicle location.

This unified system is transforming how the two forces deploy their people and their resources, providing a single incident view for 999 dispatchers that also incorporates resource view and the location of officers and vehicles. This enables quicker deployment of appropriately trained officers to attend incident scenes.

On the finance side, this unified view makes improved people planning and resource management possible. As a result, the two forces have realized combined annual savings of around £4 million, and benefit from hourly refreshes of force-wide data.

Ready to learn more?

Unit4 are an enterprise software with 40 years of heritage in the public sector and a deep understanding of its unique challenges and needs. To get an understanding of our thinking on public sector digital transformation – and how we can help you to modernize your back office for efficiency, cost savings, and increased employee satisfaction, check out our public sector transformation interactive eBook here.

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